Feb 192012
 

st marys catholic churchDoes The Catholic Church Support Medical Marijuana?

I have always avoided an article that dealt with religion and marijuana on TWB, because it brings out a lot of emotional response. However, it’s something that is talked about a lot, and so I figured it’s probably time to start the discussion. I have been a Christian since 1998, and I’m very proud of that fact. I have had battles with myself over the years trying to figure out how marijuana fits into everything, but over time, I have come to the conclusion that God has bigger things to care about in my life. Does God get mad when I consume caffeine or sugar? How is marijuana any different, other than it’s a plant he made?

What inspired this blog post was a comment I received via e-mail from a fellow Oregonian. He essentially said, stories of giving to those in need should be welcome at churches. After all, it is one the Catholic Church’s main mission statements. This got my curious brain going to see what the Catholic Church had to say about medical marijuana. Below are some excerpts from an article that I found on Google. Apparently, a medical marijuana dispensary opened up across the street from a Catholic Church, which also had a Catholic school attached to it:

““I think this is an assault on children’s innocence. They go to school to learn, obviously they’re curious, but this is not a way to learn about life,” said Joe Roland, a Parishioner of St. Paul Catholic Church.

“What’s going to happen in two months, three months? Are we going to have vending machines in the schools? Who ever thought this would be here, what’s next?” said Doug Edwards, a Parishioner of St. Paul Catholic Church.”

An article that I read on Catholic.Org was pretty scathing. The name of the article is, ‘Moving Toward Medical Marijuana,’ which sounds like it might be favorable toward marijuana. However, the article is full of quotes and studies that bash marijuana. Most of the article isn’t even medical marijuana, it’s recreational. Such as THC levels in traffic deaths and recreational penalties.

Something that I dug up on cannablog.wordpress.com:

According to The Catholic Warrior, this is their position:

First of all, marijuana is a mind altering drug and will put one into intoxication always when using it. That is an important point, because that distinguishes marijuana from something like beer which can be used without becoming intoxicated. Marijuana however you will always become intoxicated from.
As Christians we can find in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.” Drunkenness in intoxication can be achieved through alcohol or other drugs. The Bible is saying here that those people who engage in drunkenness will not enter Heaven. This makes a very clear statement that marijuana can not be compatible with a Christian as marijuana can never be used without abuse.

Below is a GREAT article that was written by Dana Larsen for Cannabis Culture. You may know Dana from his political pursuits. He’s a great guy:

Pope John Paul IIThe Popes hate dope

While millions of Catholic faithful around the world mourn the passing of Pope John Paul II, pot people would do well to remember that the Catholic Church has long been a leader in the global effort to exterminate marijuana and the cannabis culture.
The late Pope John Paul II had frequently campaigned against marijuana decriminalization, saying there are no distinctions between “hard” and “soft” drugs and that using marijuana is equivalent to using heroin.

In January 1997, a Pope-approved statement issued by the Pontifical Council for the Family claimed that legalizing drugs would be akin to legalizing murder, and also called for the banning of tobacco.

These statements are consistent with the Catholic Church’s longstanding policy of official hatred for marijuana and other medicinal and psychoactive herbs. Catholic Popes have been viciously persecuting users of medicinal plants virtually since the formation of the Church.

For much of Europe’s history, the Roman Catholic Church was fighting wars of destruction against many “heretical” sects. In many cases, these so-called heretics had rediscovered the herbal sacraments like mushrooms and cannabis, and were ruthlessly exterminated for their use of these powerful plants.

Some of these traditions of using psychoactive plants as sacraments survived for many centuries before finally being violently extinguished. For example, the magic mushroom eating Manicheans survived until the 12th century before finally being slaughtered by Catholic armies.

Most observers agree that the reason the Catholic Church hates psychoactive herbs is that these substances can create a sense of direct spiritual communion with the divine, while Catholic authority is based on the idea that the only way to reach God is with the Pope and priest as mediator.

The Inquisition

The Pope who launched the most vicious of the Catholic Church’s many campaigns against herb users was Pope Innocent VIII (1432-1492). In 1484 he issued a papal bull called “Summis desiderantes” which demanded severe punishments for magic and witchcraft, which at the time usually meant the use of medicinal and hallucinogenic herbs. Indeed, the papal bull specifically condemned the use of cannabis in worship instead of wine.

The principles Pope Innocent VIII outlined became the basis for the terrifying and torturous witch-hunters’ handbook, the Malleus Maleficarum (1487).

Further, Pope Innocent VIII was a major supporter of the vicious Inquisition, and in 1487 he appointed the infamous and sadistic Spanish friar Torquemada as Grand Inquisitor. Under Torquemada’s authority, thousands of traditional female healers, users of forbidden plants, Jews, and other “heretics” were viciously tortured and killed during the “witch-hunts” of the Spanish Inquisition. This reign of terror gripped Europe well into the 17th Century.

Catholic Inquisitors tortured and killed many more in Central and South America, where peyote, ololiuqui and other sacred plants of the Aztec culture were prohibited as “works of the devil.”

(Ironically, while the Church was slaughtering cannabis users in Europe, the Spanish conquistadors were busy planting hemp around the New World for use as clothing, rope and sails.)

Modern Catholic propaganda

Although the modern Catholic Church no longer engages in the widespread use of torture and murder to enforce their prohibition on marijuana and other useful herbs, they remain one of the world’s leading voices in support of the global drug war.

Modern Catholic literature often repeats the most outrageous and inaccurate claims of anti-pot politicians. Catholic publications and Papal statements regularly claim that smoking pot leads to violence and criminality, that most marijuana users will move on to heroin, and that there is no difference between pot and more dangerous substances.

The Catholic Church’s thousands of priests and bishops encourage their congregations to vote for prohibitionist politicians, and they collude with world governments to push the drug war philosophy. The Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, regularly calls for the UN to be more aggressive in the global drug war.

Dissent over the ages

Clearly, not all Catholics have supported their Church’s war on cannabis. During the middle ages, the most famous Catholic voice in support of marijuana was a French monk and author named Rabelais (1495-1553).

Although Rabelais’ classic books Gargantua and Pantagruel superficially appear to be merely a bawdy tale about a noble giant and his son, a deeper reading reveals a telling parody of Church and State, and contains many detailed and positive references to cannabis, which Rabelais dubbed “The Herb Pantagreulion” to avoid persecution.

Yet Rabelais still suffered for his written work in support of marijuana. He was harassed and persecuted by the Church, and the chapters that most specifically refer to marijuana (Book 3, chap 49-52) were banned by the Catholic Church. The power of this censorship has lasted for centuries, as even in many modern translations of Pantagruel these chapters are omitted.

In modern times, there are some Catholic priests and bishops that have spoken out in favor of medical pot, but not full decriminalization.

One example is Vermont Bishop Kenneth Angell, who in 2004 used his position to push for his state’s successful passage of a law allowing for limited use of medical marijuana. However, Angell was clear that his support was only for the most serious of medical users, and that he and his church were firmly opposed to allowing any sort of non-medical use.

The Pope on coke

Although the Catholic Church has had a longstanding hatred for mind-expanding drugs, it has historically been more tolerant of stimulants. During the late 1800′s, Pope Leo XIII publicly endorsed cocaine wine, and carried a personal hipflask to fortify himself. (He wasn’t alone, as Sigmund Freud, Jules Verne, and Thomas Edison were all fans of the cocaine drink.)

Almost three centuries earlier, in the early 1600′s, coffee was first being introduced into Europe. Many Catholic priests opposed coffee use, as it was associated with Islam and Arab Muslims. The Bishops of Rome petitioned Pope Clement VIII to forbid coffee drinking, but after the Pope had a taste of the drink he declared the brew was “so delicious that it would be a pity to allow the Muslim infidels to have exclusive use of it.” Legend has it that the Pope then baptized the coffee to make it truly a Christian beverage.

Sadly, Pope Clement VIII didn’t ever get a chance to have a taste of cannabis, or maybe it could have also gotten his blessing and today pot use could be an accepted part of the Catholic faith.

Other religions on the drug war

The Catholic Church is hardly the only Christian institution to actively support the persecution of pot users. The vast majority of the globe’s various Christian sects teach that using marijuana is both a sin and a crime.

At many periods in history, various Protestant religions have outdone the Catholic Church in their persecution of herbalists and cannabis users. Nevertheless, no other institution surpasses the Catholic Church in the duration, global reach and long-term devastation caused by their centuries of war against the herb culture.

Some religious organizations and modern spiritual leaders have spoken out against the drug war. The Boston-based Unitarian Univeralist church, with about 200,000 followers, has denounced the war on drugs and called for legal marijuana and an end to prohibition. The Presbyterian Church of USA, the Quakers and the Progressive Jewish Alliance are other religious groups that openly advocate the need for drug-policy reform.

What would Jesus do?

Of course, the Bible does not teach against the use of herbs. In the book of Genesis, God declares that he has given humans “every herb bearing seed,” and asserts that all of his creation is good.

In the New Testament, Jesus never specifically addresses the use of marijuana, but his view on prohibition and purity seem to be summed up in Matthew 15:11: “It’s not what goes into a man’s mouth which defiles him,” said Jesus, “but rather that which comes out of it.”

The apostle Paul also reinforces this idea in his writings. “Everything created by God is good,” wrote Paul, “and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” (1 Timothy, 4:4) In another book, Paul writes “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for any one who thinks it unclean… For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:14,17)

Jesus encouraged his followers to visit those in prison, minister to the poor and love their enemies. So while the Catholic Bishops gather to decide which geriatric virgin will lead the world’s largest Church, let us hope they choose a man who will lead their global congregation towards true godliness, peace on earth and an end to worldwide drug war.

* What the Bible says about prohibition: www.equalrights4all.org/religious/bible.htm [2]
* Christians for Cannabis: www.christiansforcannabis.com [3]
* Unitarian Univeralists for Drug Policy Reform: www.uudpr.org [4]
* Quakers: www.quaker.org [5]
* Pope Leo XIII endorses cocaine: cocaine.org/popecoke.htm [6]
* Modern Catholic Culture propaganda against marijuana: www.catholicculture.org/docs/doc_view.cfm?recnum=3532 [7]
* 1998 Catholic statement about the evils of euthanasia and drug-addiction: www.marijuana.org/stjoseph6-5-98.htm [8]
* Wikipedia on Pope Innocent VIII: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Innocent_VIII [9]
* History of the Malleus Maleficarum: www.summerlands.com/crossroads/remembrance/_remembrance/malleus_maleficarum.htm [10]

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About Johnny Green

Johnny Green is a marijuana activist from Oregon. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Public Policy. Follow Johnny Green on Facebook and Twitter. Also, feel free to email any concerns.
  • Theophile

    Hi Johnny,
    You said: “In the book of Genesis, God declares that he has given humans “every herb bearing seed,” “.
    Let’s elaborate: That would be Genesis 1:29, the 1st book, 1st chapter, 1st page of the Bible. It is also the very 1st gift God gave to man, specifically referred to as a gift. It is upon the face of all the earth.
    Now, who other than Satan, or “his” children would:
    #Claim ownership of, (Devils weed)
    #Tax, regulate, make criminal,
    # Or counterfeit to obtain patents on…
    God’s 1st gift to man?
    This is only the 1st of the evidence no one reads the Bible. If they did(and actually pondered it) they would see Satan has indeed been hard at work deceiving all the nations.

    • DOMINICK

      AGREED!

  • whatever

    bullshit.god does NOT exist

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Johnny-Credo/100000740982177 Johnny Credo

      YES SHE DOES  !

    • Jeremyrichard83

      Let me know how that belief works out for you when you die. I hope I am permitted to witness you reaction when all truth is revealed to you, if only for amusement. Though I wholly wish you the best in all things.

      • Sour Alien

        To let millions of children die of starvation, God is either powerless or immoral, who would want to worship such an obviously man made God?

  • staci

    Ok first off beer is liquid bread and second off there plants that does a lot more for people then they know. I have books and stuff about plants and how they can be turned into everyday food. So christians need to stop putting their beliefs on us people who have different beliefs than them.

  • BigGoose62

    As an atheist, I find this article rather pointless. Of course, I understand the point of trying to get through to the religious majority and help them understand how full of shit the government is on pot. The problem, though, is that they won’t care. Even if it’s proven to them again and again, most religious folks stick to their guns, traditions, and beliefs. That’s a losing battle. It also revolves around the fact that religion wants to get in your face and impose its dogma on everybody. So If they have a problem with it, nobody else can touch it.

    P.S. instead of turning to a few excerpts from a 2000 book, look to modern science to make your own decisions. I mean, I can easily show you tons of errors and flaws written in the bible. So it does no good to reason with it. Just lose it and come back to reality.

    Toke on

  • CO Buddyboy

    It’s not surprising that western religions fear and prohibit mind altering substances whether they are mild “feel good” substances like cannabis or major Mr Toad’s Wild Ride hallucinogens like peyote, LSD, and psilocybin, MDMA, etc. The purpose of western religion is mind control and you can’t know what will come of your parishioners when they can experience the mind expansion and (most dangerously for religions) the questioning that comes with expanding one’s mind.

    I am of the opinion that all gods and religions are simply “made up” by each individual using what they’ve heard as a “base.” People believe what they want to believe. I am somewhat happy to hear some religious talk about the fact that cannabis is a natural herb and should be treated as a natural substance, but I am wary that “true believers” will continue to demonize cannabis and hallucinogens until they come jack booted and kicking my door down looking for “demon weed” and other mind expanding substances.

    PS It’s not surprising that caffeine, cocaine, adderall, and Ritalin are all okay with churches. Stimulant addled parishioners are much easier to control with fantasy tales of gods and demons. Even alcohol, which is just fine with the majority of the religions (they even serve it in church) makes it easy to get parishioners to “do anything” for the church.

    No, just like our out of control government, cannabis and the hallucinogens will remain outlawed by our overly religious society. Amen.

  • http://nccpn.org perry parks

    I wish I had the time to really reply to this one, alas I don’t.
    I am a committed Christian who has had this cross to bear for some years now. It would be beneficial to the Christians to see to what extent they “have already been deceived; the one thing that is used to prevent science from being inserted into the argument; THE FEAR OF BEING DECEIVED!

    If you search the scriptures and listen to your spiritual heart, “the truth will be revealed to you”.

    If you hear the Holy Spirit in this message, go to nccpn.org and look at some of the videos..especially the one now proclaimed by the National Cancer Institute, it kills malignant cells without harm to normal cells. In addition to the symptoms of cancer, it can now be recommended for it’s DIRECT ANTI TUMOR capability.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Johnny-Credo/100000740982177 Johnny Credo

    wow, great article.!  you must have access to the college library.

    cant we make  movie out of this shit? some of it is bizarre.Â
    great read in time of termoil in CA,CO,MIS. .etc.

  • Georg Haubenwallner
  • Georg Haubenwallner
  • MikeParent

    I’m skeptical  about anything Men in dresses say.

    • Jeremyrichard83

      How immature can one be, they are a type of robe, traditional clerical clothing. By the way, most of the church bashing is unfounded and most likely taken either from references written by a mason or someone who despises Catholic church because it does’t endorse what their nature craves. This is not to say that there aren’t corrupt church officials. Jesus never promised that there wouldn’t be, only the infallibility of his chosen rock upon which he would build his church (and obviously his successors )as far as dogmatic teaching is concerned. Try to bear with defects and imperfections of church officials at least as much as you would have them or anyone bear with yours. Chosen though they are, they remain human.

      • DOMINICK

        well said

      • Sour Alien

        Im skeptical about any organization that protects child molesters whilst believing in mythical creatures.

  • http://www.facebook.com/washingtonmedmj1 Rick Rosio

    SHAME UPON THE CHURCH LEADERS THAT ALLOW THE SUFFERING OF THE SICK AND DYING TO CONTINUE

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4el6EGqcUw

    WATCH AND WEEP FOR THE NEEDLESS FEAR THE CHURCH SUPPORTS!!!!

  • tommy B

    I thought that quote from the parishioner about the vending machines was a joke. The Children! Their Innocence! What an exaggeration, way to tackle the straw man with righteous fury. By your organization’s logic there’s a chance those same potential vending machines might have heroin needles ready to go too! This is nonsense and I feel that the church is full of contradictory nonsense when it comes to this kind of subject.

    Back when I was younger and had to attend church on Sundays, I always passed on the wine because it tasted horrible. Now that I’m older I drink very rarely because I am a victim of bad genetics, and suffer from ‘Alcohol Flush Syndrome’ as Wikipedia calls it.

    So in my case I lack the full ability to metabolize the alcohol being offered to me (as a child of innocence) at church, while the natural substance which ALL OF US have receptors built into our brains for is being demonized at school and on tv. Meanwhile the health effects of over-intoxication for each drug lay on opposite sides of the spectrum. (That is if you can ever bee too high in the sky)

    So I can either drink legally and kill myself overtime – (according to wikipedia) by having a higher risk for alcohol-related diseases, such as liver and esophageal cancers and in the digestive tract,,, or I can choose to illegally vaporize some herb and feel happy about… Everything.

    • tommy B

      Sorry for the errors – typed that up in class on a red battery

  • INMYBUISNESS

    TO  ABUSE  AND  GLUTTONIZE IS  A SIN..TO USE AS MEDICATION OR SOOTHE, IS  RESPONSIBLE.   I BELIEVE THE DIFFERENCES HERE IS  AS ALL THINGS   ARE…
     THE PEOPLE AND THEIR  CHOICES…

  • JeannetteCA

    I am catholic, and I also live in California, and have a medical cannabis card because of a physical disability I’ve had since my teenage years(I’m 33). I get a lot of flack from my family for it, but you cannot judge someone unless you walk a mile in their shoes. So anyone who wants to tell me “I’m not a real catholic because I smoke medical cannabis” just so I can function to work and be a functioning contributing part of society- just doesn’t get it.
    There are so many worse things out there, pills that people take that cause accelerated death due to their string of side effects.
    I am against recreational use or any substance, however, cannabis has shown to be a benefit on many levels for people who have chronic illness and wish to keep their liver and kidneys intact by avoiding opiate pain medicine.
    I have actually seen my health increase since I began smoking medical cannabis for the past 14 months. I actually feel well enough to work full time again – after recovering from a stroke in 2008.
    There is a misconception on how much people such as myself actually smoke/use. In trying to convince my catholic family of how little is used to cope, I showed my mother a pea sized bud; which I smoke that amount daily to overcome my chronic debilitating nausea. The missconception about medical use is the thinking that if I didn’t have a disability I’d still use, however that isn’t the case. I much prefer to be 100% natural. But if I’m going to use something to dull the pain so I can function, I’d much prefer the herb that is Gods gift to man kind!

    • DOMINICK

      me too!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=830362305 Igby Baldendorf

    good article! I love God and I love weed, and I think the only problem with it is all of the haters out there trying to force others to live lame boring lives like them. It is a miracle plant that has literally thousands of uses, do some research and you will see that God truly gave us cannabis as a gift to provide for so many of our needs.
    If it’s okay I’d like to post a link to my page about grass:
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Truth-about-Grass/167596553373825

  • athanasios

    My brother, my daughter, and two of my good friends are on prescription antidepressants. I have SAD and anxiety issues. A friend introduced me to herb a couple years ago, which helps with my problems. In fact, I find I am much more loving and grateful after I partake.

    Now, I actually work for/with the Church, but I also understand theology and scripture well enough to be able to see the immorality and ignorance in a position that has no problem with big pharma pushing synthetic drugs with horrific side effects (suicide warnings on antidepressants?!?!), but condemns the use of an herb.

    The Church as an institution has done wonderful things, building hospitals, etc., but has always had difficulty being independent of the (always oppressive) state–i.e., thinking for itself. But that is the nature of powerful institutions. Be Christ-like–avoid power at all costs. Philippians 2:7

  • MOSES CASTILLO

    THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HAD BETTER TAKE NOTICE. THEY WONDER WHY NUMBERS OF WORSHIPERS HAVE LEFT. YOU HARBOR CHILD MOLESTERS AND HOMOSEXUALS. YOU DONT HAVE TO BE A SCHOLAR TO UNDERSTAND GENESIS IS JUST AS PLAIN AS THE SUN AND THE MOON, ALL PLANTS BEARING SEED. ADDING OF CHANGING THE MEANING OF THIS IS A SIN, ONE THAT WILL BRING YOU TO DAMNATION. i SUFFER FROM INTENSE PAIN ALL THE TIME. i HAVE TO TAKE MORPHINE OR i CAN NOT FUNCTION, THE MEDICATION CAUSES SEVERE CONSTIPATION. WITHOUT CANNABIS EVERY THREE DAYS i HAVE TO TAKE LARGE AMOUNTS OF LAXATIVES TO RELIEVE THIS AS WELL AS OTHER MEASURES THAT WILL GO UNMENTIONED , WITH GODS GIFT i CAN REDUCE MY
    MEDS AND FUNCTION NORMALLY. IF THIS IS A SIN TO TAKE THIS PLANT i GUESS I AM A SINNER. i WENT TO CONFESSION AND THATS WHAT I WAS TOLD. WELL THAT WAS THE LAST STRAW. i AM NOT RAISING MY CHILDREN CATHOLIC. WE ARE RAISING INDEPENDENT FREE THINKING CHRISTIANS, THAT FOLLOW THE BIBLE AND JUST DONT BELIEVE IN CHANGING MEANINGS OR INTENT OF THE WORD. ALL OF THE PROPAGANDA THEY MANUFACTURE ABOUT CANNABIS IS TRUE ABOUT ALCOHOL. BEER, LIQUOR, KILLS BRAIN CELLS, IS ADDICTIVE, SPAWNS VIOLENCE AND DEPRAVITY. LOTS OF PEOPLE ARE USING CANNABIS IN ALL KINDS OF WAYS FOR MANY REASONS AND NO ONE HAS EVER DIED FROM IT. THE SAME CAN BE SAID OF THE COCA LEAF. IT IS NOT UNTIL MAN PUTS HIS HANDS ON IT THAT IT BECOMES A DRUG AND TAKES ON A SINISTER EFFECT ON THE BODY

  • madurgile

    God made weed its already proven to expand the lungs, thc is the only thing they found that actually protects your brain cells also in older age it actually increases the the making of new brain cells by 40% faster as long as you have thc is your system you cant grow a tumor. alcohol kills over 350 people a day when weed kills 0 yearly man made alcohol God made weed. and with driving cigarrets impare you so much more than weed and is so much worse for you and its legal? to much of anything is bad usually starting with a gram a day is bad but drink to much water you can kill brain cells and possibly drown you cant over dose on weed but there is a point where to much is to much you just have to be responsible and pray about it.

  • Sour Alien

    Religion as always had a detrimental effect on humanity. They shout Drugs are bad while drinking wine. How can they say Beer isnt intoxicating but Cannabis is? Oh well, after all this is the organization that protected child rapists.

  • http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/ M. Simon

    Well you can always become a Jew they are in the lead on cannabis as medication.

    Rabbi Jeffrey Kahn

    My former Rabbi is opening a dispensary in the District of Columbia -

    Medical Marijuana prohibition is a crime against humanity and a violation of the religious precept – heal the sick.

    • http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/ M. Simon

      Let me add that Reform Jews had a year of outreach on medical cannabis in 2004.

  • http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/ M. Simon